Ricoh has announced the development and release of the GXR interchangeable unit camera system featuring the world's smallest and lightest digital camera with the ability to change lenses. The products announced consist of the GXR body, weighing only 160 grams, and two lenses, the A12 50mm f/2.5 macro lens and the S10 24-72mm f/2.5-4.4 zoom lens.
During 2009 we have seen the release of small, high quality cameras with interchangeable lenses from Olympus and Panasonic. These cameras use the "Micro Four Thirds" system, jointly developed by Olympus and Panasonic, which contains a sensor that's smaller than that of a typical DSLR but much larger than that of a point and shoot camera. These cameras lack the mirror box of a DSLR and, as a result, are much smaller and lighter in weight than a DSLR even though image quality is comparable.
The GXR takes this one step further. Not only does the GXR body lack a mirror box, but it also is without a sensor. Instead the sensor, a processor and even a shutter are built into the camera's lenses. The A12 macro lens contains a APS-C CMOS sensor, similar to that used in DSLR cameras, and the S10 zoom lens uses a 1/1.7 inch CCD sensor.
One major advantage of this system is that, when changing lenses, the sensor is not exposed to the elements, greatly reducing the possibility of dust on the sensor, which is a common problem with DSLRs and the Micro Four Thirds cameras. Another advantage is that the lenses can be designed for specialist applications, with certain functions available in particular lenses (for instance, a larger sensor in the A12 macro lens).
The GXR body has a very sharp 3.0 inch, 920,000 dot LCD, a built-in flash and a hot shoe. However, most of the important camera functions are built into the lenses.
The GXR body, A12 macro lens and S10 zoom lens are scheduled to be released in early December. Prices are expected to be about $550 for the body, $1,000 for the macro lens and $550 for the zoom lens.
For additional information about the GXR system, see Ricoh's website.